Devas wins $672 million for contract cancellation by ISRO arm

Bengaluru, Sep 29 (IANS) In a setback to India, an international arbitration court has awarded $672 million (Rs.4,434 crore) damages to Devas Multimedia Services Ltd for the cancellation of a commercial satellite contract by the Indian space agency arm Anrix Corporation in 2011.

“The International Criminal Court (ICC) tribunal ruled in our favour and found Anrix liable for unlawfully terminating our agreement in February 2011,” the city-based Devas said here on Tuesday.

The tribunal also awarded damages and pre-award interest totalling $672 million to Devas with post-award interest accruing at 18 percent per annum on the sum until the award is fully paid.

“We are hopeful that Antrix will live up to its legal obligations and pay the award so that this dispute that arose during the prior government can be brought to a swift close,” the company said in a statement.

“We are grateful to the ICC tribunal for ruling unanimously in our favour. With its award, we hope to move forward to concluding this dispute,” Devas chairman Larry Babbio said in the statement.

Antrix is a wholly-owned commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organsiation (ISRO).

ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar declined to comment on the court’s ruling.

“No comments,” Kiran Kumar told IANS when asked for response to the ruling.

Former ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan, during whose extended tenure (2009-2014) the controversy over sharing the scarce S-band spectrum broke and the deal was cancelled, did not respond to calls from IANS.

The then UPA government cancelled the $300-million (Rs.1,350 crore) contract in February 2011, invoking sovereignty and decided to use the advanced satellite (Gsat-6) for the country’s strategic use.

Under the deal, Antrix was to lease transponders of GSAT-6 to Devas for allowing it to offer digital multimedia services using the S-band wavelength (spectrum), reserved for strategic purpose.

The space agency, however, launched the satellite on August 27 from its spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh as a communication satellite, using a heavy rocket.

The anulled deal turned into a protracted battle after Devas challenged the government’s decision to scrap it in the arbitration court at The Hague, claiming a whopping $1 billion in damages for breach of the bilateral investment protection and promotion agreement.

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